During his visit to Bachmann electronic GmbH in Feldkirch last week, Dr. Othmar Karas was given an impressive insight into how a medium-sized company can continue to develop under difficult market conditions.
"Technology and its further development are at the heart of Bachmann," began CEO Bernhard Zangerl during the brief company presentation. Dr Karas made it clear that Bachmann's values are not just words on presentation slides, but are truly lived throughout the company. In addition to Zangerl's statement that "the medium-sized sector is the economic backbone of our society", Dr Karas added that the associated suppliers and small businesses depend on and benefit from this sector, underlining its economic importance for the country.
On the subject of being a world leader in the automation of wind turbines, Dr Karas asked whether wind turbines need to get bigger and bigger. Bernhard Zangerl explained that the goal is to achieve the most efficient energy generation to make the turbines economically and ecologically viable. This involves finding the optimal location for high wind yields and then determining the appropriate dimensions for the turbines. For example, wind turbines in mountainous regions with turbulent winds tend to be smaller than offshore turbines with laminar wind flows. This is critical to the functionality and longevity of the turbines, to maximise energy production at minimum cost.
Dr. Karas emphasised the importance of an active exchange with companies such as Bachmann electronic GmbH, stating that concrete examples are needed in order for policymakers to formulate and implement concrete measures. Bernhard Zangerl welcomed this call as there are many concrete examples to be mentioned. One such example is the diverse maritime certifications for components within the EU itself.
Each country has its own testing standards and therefore its own certificates, even though these standards do not differ significantly in the actual testing procedures. For companies in this market segment, this means constantly renewing X-certificates for the same component, which is time consuming and costly without any functional benefit. In addition, the different levels of export and import barriers create significant distortions of competition, making it difficult for SMEs to establish a sustainable presence in international markets. For example, the Chinese and US markets have import regulations that are not reciprocal, not to mention the additional requirements imposed on domestic producers in these countries, many of which are not applicable to foreign counterparts.
Due to time constraints, they agreed to provide a list of barriers and industry-oriented solutions. Dr. Karas asked for such targeted input and looked forward to a committed cooperation to enable industry and politics to work more closely together to achieve goals for the domestic economy and to ensure development security for investors and companies.
Dr Karas was visibly impressed by Bachmann's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bernhard Zangerl reported that with a combination of measures and a bit of luck, they had successfully managed the crisis with considerable effort. These measures included proactive long-term inventory management and the establishment of a task force comprising various business units to address specific challenges in a timely manner.
The ongoing impact of the conflict in Ukraine was briefly discussed. "Our company views the development as highly critical. Although we are not directly involved in the business of the countries concerned, the war is having a significant impact on global raw material markets and therefore on the availability of materials," said Zangerl.
A consensus has been reached on energy supply and related energy management. The EU now has the opportunity to move from national thinking to international energy supply and to maintain technological leadership in this globally important field compared to the Asian and American markets. Bachmann is already well prepared in these areas, with proven technology, and is confident of being at the forefront in international comparison. In particular, it is about the technological implementation of the secure coupling of different energy network architectures for cross-border use. With its expertise in renewable energy generation and the associated network technology, it is clear that Bachmann will be one of the EU's most important knowledge carriers.
Othmar Karas outlined the two main tasks: to ensure a secure and independent energy supply for Europe and to achieve global market leadership in energy technology. The latter is not merely self-serving; Europe must lead in this globally relevant field in order to maintain a strong position in international affairs.
Achieving this will require the efforts of all stakeholders and, as Karas stated, "we need to put an end to thinking in political decades and an end to political cowardice when it comes to open discussions with citizens on this issue". Only then, Karas added, can we achieve a future of freedom and an environment worth living in.
After the brief but intense exchange, the guest took a personal tour of Bachmann.
We would like to thank First Vice President Othmar Karas for his visit and the active exchange.